The following is the statement issued by human rights lawyers on the absurd appointment by Pres. Benigno Aquino of retired police general Lina Sarmiento to head the martial law victims claims board, which is tasked to determine the compensation to be received by the victims of the Marcos dictatorship. I totally share the sentiment expressed by Atty. Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL).

Nothing personal. But does she “have a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights and involvement in efforts against human rights violations” committed during the Marcos regime as mandated by the law? No such evidence on record.

Does she “have a clear and adequate understanding and commitment to human rights protection, promotion and advocacy?” Open to serious challenge.

And yet she will head this Claims Board? Why put a woman in uniform who represents an institution that has historically played its indispensable role in violating human rights at the helm of a body on human rights? What sort of macabre message is this?

As a PNP “human rights officer,” she played into the part of the apologist mechanism during the GMA administration killing spree and nightmare of disappearances of scores of civilians. Does this inspire trust and confidence?

And BS Aquino had to take a year before he could finally decide to openly dishonor, insult and scoff at the memory and sacrifice of those who raged against the dying of the light.

Incredible callousness on top of signature indolence.

Save maybe for some on the Board who may be sincere, those that were at the forefront of the battle against the fascist dictatorship & incorrigible kleptocracy were obviously shut out any representation by this son of perceived icons of democracy.

Where does the heart of this government lie? Or is it April Fools’ Day?


Edre U. Olalia
Secretary General


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